Dustin Brown

Dustin Brown raises the Stanley Cup for thousands of Kings fans following L.A.'s 3-2, double-overtime win Friday over the New York Rangers at Staples Center. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / June 13, 2014)

Twenty minutes after hoisting the Stanley Cup — not once but twice — and taking laps around the Staples Center ice to the roar of the crowd, Dustin Brown needed a break.

While the rest of his team celebrated, the Kings captain skated off to the side and slumped against the boards.

"I'm emotionally spent like I've never been before," he said. "Just an accumulation of everything."

This season has been the best of times and the worst of times for the 29-year-old forward.

The Kings battled through 26 playoff games, won seven elimination games and three Game 7s on the road — all records for an NHL champion — to capture their second title in three seasons.

Along the way, Brown became the first American-born captain to win multiple Cups, finishing with a burst of four goals and four assists in the final nine games. That included a double-overtime winner in Game 2 of the Cup Final against the New York Rangers.

It wasn't easy. Not after the worst regular season of his career.

"He was not going to give up," said Luc Robitaille, the former Kings star who is now president of business operations. "He was going to keep going and going."

The struggle began in training camp when Brown suffered a hamstring injury that kept him from preparing in normal fashion. There were distractions off the ice, too, as his wife gave birth to their fourth child — a daughter named Mackenzie.

It all added up to a slow start, Brown recording only 10 goals and six assists through the first 58 games. He described the stretch in one word: "Disappointing."

People watched his sluggish play and wondered if his career was over. Just two years removed from a starring role in the 2012 Cup run, he looked worn down.

Then came the Winter Olympics in Sochi. U.S. officials included Brown on their roster, but that might have been only because he had served as part of the team's leadership group the previous summer.

Regardless, the Russia "vacation" did him good.

"It just gave me a two-week break," he said. "To get away from the season I was having here."

His scoring slump ended with a goal in the opener against Slovakia. Brown added another in the quarterfinals against the Czech Republic and, though the Americans finished out of the medals, he came home rejuvenated.

Though his 27 points for the regular season were a career low, his teammates could see the difference.

"It's the way he battles every game," forward Tanner Pearson said. "He may not be putting the points up, but the way he puts his heart on the line and does what he needs to do is incredible."

As the postseason began, the man with the "C" on his sweater turned it up a notch.

His two goals and two assists helped the Kings scramble back from a three-games-to-none deficit against the San Jose Sharks. Two assists contributed to a victory over the Ducks in the second round.

"He led by example, which is what he does best," forward Trevor Lewis said. "He's such a big part of our identity."